Sociological, Documentary & Digital Media Research Methods

Audio Ethnography
In this course students will learn how sounds ranging from everyday conversations to oral histories to song lyrics can be used to understand the social dynamics of community, the relationship between individuals and communities, institutional power and social injustice. They will start by reviewing how sociologists working both inside the academic discipline of sociology and out have used sounds to create analyses about the social world. This will include a thorough review of the ethnographic work and methodological strategies of Clifford Shaw (criminology), Zora Neale Hurston (folklore), David Boder (anthropology), Harold Garfinkel (ethnomethodology), Glenn Gould (public radio), Mitchell Duneier (ethnography) and Ira Glass (public radio), as well as an exploration of how this work compares to other forms of documentary work, such as visual sociology, documentary photography and photojournalism and documentary filmmaking. Following this literature review, they will then explore how different audio ethnographies have been used to both document the social world, as well represent it. This will include an exploration of the ways academic sociologists, as well as other social scientists and historians, have used audio as a form of evidence in their work, as well as a their final form of analysis. During this portion of the course, students will have the chance to actually record and produce a short, ethnographic audio clip from start to finish. These clips may be about any topic of the student's choosing, except for one requirement: They must be set in and around the town where the course is taught. • State University of New York-College at Potsdam 

Communication Research
In this course students become acquainted with methods that communication practitioners use to conduct different types of research. Goals include learning to identify, understand, and evaluate diverse research strategies; distinguish between qualitative and quantitative methods, the types of knowledge they produce (big and small data), and the strengths and the weaknesses of each; and think critically about objectivity, researcher standpoint and research ethics. Students start by digging deep into a full text - Season 1 of the audio documentary Serial, produced and narrated by Sarah Koenig. They will then study the research methods this audio documentary is rooted in - ethnography and new journalism. Emphasis will be placed upon the ways storytellers rely upon measurable facts to acquire rhetorical power, as well as the difference between researching and writing about other people versus ourselves. • Purchase College-State University of New York • Available as an On-Line Course

Documentary Studies, Introductory
This course introduces students to the field of Documentary Studies with 1) A specific emphasis of the kinds of documentary work sociologists and anthropologists have created in the 20th and 21st century; 2) The methodological and theoretical intersections between sociology and anthropology and the work of photojournalists, filmmakers, TV producers and tabloid journalists; and 3) An intensive look at all those forms of documentary work, including cinéma vérité - which have led to the creation of what in 2014 we call Reality TV. Students can expect to read and create very short projects every week of the course and to learn the basic technological, narrative and rhetorical skills required to make a short but comprehensive Reality Audio or Visual Project from start to finish, set specifically in the Bronx, NYC and which can be forever archived digitally, in cyberspace. Students will learn how to critique and make Street Photography, Instagram Selfies, Reality TV, Cinema Vérité; how to become academically trained voyeurs, eavesdroppers and participant observers; what the difference is between a social fact and representations of these facts; and, finally, how to tell a good story both about themselves, as well as other people. • College of Mount Saint Vincent-Riverdale, NYC • Available as an On-Line Course

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
This course is all about the way sociology (and other social scientific analyses) get made and made-up, that is, how sociology is researched, written and defended. We start by examining philosophical ideas about truth, fiction and reality using recent news, tabloid and pop cultural stories. We then shift into the history of sociology and when and why different kinds or genres of sociology were first made, namely sociological theory, ethnography, survey research and experiments. Finally, we put into practice four different methodological techniques, observation, questioning, measuring and testing, as well as consider the ethical, social and rhetorical power of these techniques. • University of Wisconsin-Madison • University of Denver • State University of New York-College at Potsdam • College of Mount Saint Mary-Newburgh, NY • Available as an On-Line Course

Readings In Applied Research
This course is all about learning how to analyze and write an applied sociological study from start to finish. The reading, viewing and listening you have to do for this course is very heavy. You can expect about 6 hours a week for the first 10 weeks of the course. To offset this, we will work on some of the reading during class time and I have made the writing assignments very simple. During the last two weeks of the course you will have a less simple writing assignment, but no more reading to do. Here is a bare bones list of what we will be reading, viewing or listening to and discussing (not necessarily the entire text): Serial (2014) by Sarah Koenig; Stories We Tell (2010) by Sarah Polley; In Cold Blood (1965) by Truman Capote; The Mystery Show (2015) by Starlee Kine; Paper Lion (1965) by George Plimpton; Keep The River On Your Right (1969) by Tobias Schneebaum; The Signal and the Noise (2012) by Nate Silver; Obedience and Authority (1964) by Stanley Milgrim. After we go deep into these materials and discuss them, you will propose - not execute - a sociological study of your own based on the specific themes, theories and methods of one of these studies while explaining why you chose it over the other four. By the end of the course you will have a deeper understanding of how to select a research topic and form a research question; be able to write a well-developed literature review; be able to select and model the appropriate research methods for your research question; and, finally, be able to write a sociological research proposal. • College of Mount Saint Mary-Newburgh, NY • Available as an On-Line Course

Sociological Research Methods, Advanced
In this course we will study what sociology is and what it isn't, focusing specifically on the different methodological techniques sociologists have developed over the years as a way to create, defend and sustain their discipline. We will start by reading selections from four different kinds of canonical sociological theory, ethnography, survey research and experiments paying close attention to the ways these specific genres of sociology become linked to certain subject matters, as well as the methodological techniques associated with each genre. Students will follow-up these readings by writing a Draft Proposal for a Sociological Study of their own. We will then carefully study the similarities & differences between sociology and other forms of social scientific and realist writing, including theology, anthropology, history, political science, geography, documentary studies and, finally, digital storytelling - i.e., audio, visual and photographic stories. Students will then create from start to finish a digital (audio, visual, photographic) story of their own based on a topic I assign to the entire class. This will allow them to further explore, develop and critique core methodological techniques such as conceptualizing, documenting, observing and archiving. Many of the readings used in this course, including but not limited to selections from Durkheim's Suicide, Whyte's Street Corner Society and Kinsey's sexuality surveys will be distributed via email, however, students will be required to obtain a copy of Robert Coles' Doing Documentary Work, Zora Neale Hurston's Every Tongue Got To Confess and Denis Wood's Everything Sings. • University of Wisconsin-Madison • University of Denver • College of Mount Saint Mary-Newburgh • Available as an On-Line Course

Writing An Undergraduate Thesis
Purchase College-State University of New York • Available as an On-Line Course

Writing Ethnography and Biography
University of Denver